Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Trip to the MoonZoo

MoonZoo is another Zooniverse project available for you to get involved with. But instead of looking deep into the far universe, with MoonZoo you stay closer to home by analyzing moon data from the Lunar Reconaissance Orbiter. 

This project comes in two parts: Crater Survey and Boulder Wars.  In the Crater Survey users are asked to label and measure craters in lunar pictures; this data is used to help date various sections of the moon by comparison with data collected from other scientists and the 1970's Apollo missions.  In Boulder Wars users compare two separate pictures and identify the one with the most apparent boulders.  Since boulders are crated by large impacts that force out the lunar soil areas with many boulders can tell us much about the composition and depth of the underlying soil.

Similar to other Zooniverse projects, the researchers have taken much care to make the project as user-friendly as possible while generating very specific data that can be rigorously analyzed. After watching the tutorial videos and viewing examples of various lunar features, users can hop right in to either project and get started.  All this takes less then ten minutes.

Getting started is easy:
  1. Travel to MoonZoo and register online (or sign in with any other Zooniverse account). 
  2. Travel to the Tutorial page and watch the Boulder Survey and Crater Wars videos.  The first is less than five minutes long and the second is under two minutes long.
  3. Review the rest of the tutorial page.  Most of this just reinforces what you were already taught in the video though the added examples are quite useful.
  4. Click either Crater Survey or Boulder Wars from the left-side menu, and let the games begin!
As an added bonus, the projct team is also looking for Space Hardware and other hard-to-find but scientifically interesting features that may be visible in the photographs.  So you really do get the thrill of discovery with this project!